Changing children’s attitude toward bullying must begin at home.
That is what George Scott, a licensed family and marriage therapist, stressed to parents and educators at a community forum at Wayne Hills High School Monday.
Scott told the audience that parents, and educators, have a responsibility to create a culture where children feel secure, safe, and able to express themselves freely without fear of reprisals.
“Kids want to succeed. They want to do well,” Scott said. “They want to hear things like ‘I am proud of you.’ A child’s greatest need is acceptance.”
That acceptance, Scott said, must start at home. But several factors can make ensuring a child lives in a peaceful environment.
Families are under more stress now because both parents may work. Sometimes, one parent must work two jobs. Parents are under more stress than ever, Scott said. Sometimes, they can take that stress out on their children through yelling or physical discipline.
“Children that hurt, hate and children that hate, harm,” Scott said.
Developing a routine at home and school for children is vital to establishing such a culture. Eating dinner at home as family once a week can have a positive effect.
“I believe that our children who are a part of these families, our culture blows them apart throughout the week. Stressors blow them apart,” Scott said. “Kids don’t like chaos. They like to know what’s going to happen on Monday.”
Wayne Police Detective Sgt. Charles Ahern, who runs the department’s juvenile division, said parents need to report alleged bullying incidents to authorities immediately.
“Together we will work to solve the problem,” Ahern said. “Together we will work to solve the problem. Our goal is to get it to stop.”
Harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) have received more attention from parents and administrators since Governor Christie signed the state’s first Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights into law two years ago. The law is designed to correct loopholes in the state’s previous anti-bullying law, which was enacted in 2002.
The law requires teachers to report incidents of HIB to school principals. An investigation into an alleged incident must begin that day. Principals are required to report their findings to Superintendent Ray Gonzalez within 10 days. Gonzalez reports the number of HIB incidents at Board of Education meetings.
Naomi Conklin, the district’s anti-bullying coordinator, encouraged parents to contact their school’s principal or anti-bullying specialist if they suspect their child is a victim of bullying.
Conklin said an electronic presentation Scott showed at the forum would be posted on the district website soon.
For a complete list of the district’s anti-bullying specialists, or for Conklin’s contact information, click here.
Conklin said a similar forum on bullying is being planned for the spring. She hopes to present more information about social media and educate parents on what kind of social media activities and websites students participate in and join.